Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of October 11, 2023

Rev. Catherine Nance

Lament. It is the word on our hearts, O God. Lament. Usually spoken when there are no words – or, at least, no words that make sense. 

Israel. Gaza. Hamas. Palestine. We are horrified by the images and videos. We are frightened for loved ones who are there and for all of the innocent citizens we can only imagine. We cringe at the number of people killed and the number held hostage … regardless of nationality, we cringe at the number. 

We turn to our scripture and read from Lamentations … 

How lonely sits the city
    that once was full of people!
How like a widow she has become,
    she that was great among the nations!
She that was a princess among the provinces
    has become subject to forced labor. 

She weeps bitterly in the night,
    with tears on her cheeks; (Lam 1:1-2)

We read from the Psalms …. 

Lord, you are the God who saves me;
    day and night I cry out to you.
2 May my prayer come before you;
    turn your ear to my cry. 

3 I am overwhelmed with troubles
    and my life draws near to death. (Psalm 88:1-3) 

We are frightened and horrified. Scared and disgusted. We pray for action, we pray for justice, we pray for mercy, and then realize we are so far removed (at least most of us are) and feel helpless in our prayers. 

We again turn to scriptures, 

We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (Romans 8:26) 

Do you lament, as well, O God? Are your groanings for the lives of innocents; are your groanings for the misguided ways of greed and hatred? Do you groan at violence? Forgive us when we move too quickly from lament to revenge; from admitting our helplessness to seeking security in fleeting strength. Let nothing bring us security other than knowing you are with us. 

We lament.  

We pray for President Biden, for Prime Minister Netanyahu, and for all leaders who are working together to bring a resolution. We lament. We hope. We pray for military personnel and for the work that they must do. We pray for their safety. Lord, have mercy. We do not want war; yet, we pray about war. Lord, have mercy. 

And then, O God, our own heartaches and our own situations interrupt our prayers. Sometimes we feel guilty for praying for ourselves or for a neighbor ‘when there are atrocities in the world.’ We pray with the Psalmist, “who are we, that you are even mindful of us?” 

But yet, you hear all of our prayers. Prayers of thanksgiving for a joyful Fall Break! Prayers for a neighbor’s family in the midst of illness and grief. Prayers for a spouse grieving for their partner. Prayers of thanksgiving for a good check-up and prayers of thanksgiving for good medical care. Prayers of hope for a grandchild who is trying out for a play. Prayers of hope for a sister looking for a job. 

Thank you, O God, for hearing our prayers, and for groaning with us. Knowing that you hear our muddled cries and our articulate praises at the same time brings us an assurance. We take a deep breath. We lament, we weep, we hold those we love, we hurt for our neighbors and hope for our friends. Thank you for this gift of prayer.  

We pray for …

  • A member undergoing cancer treatments and the toll it takes physically
  • A friend moving into independent living 
  • A mother going from hospital to skilled care
  • A friend who has had complications after heart surgery
  • Law enforcement officers
  • A member whose husband died unexpectedly; for the whole family – children and grandchildren
  • Peace. 
  • World leaders to come together with reason and peace
  • Neighbors and friends from First Baptist Church, Knoxville, who arrived in Israel the day before the attacks. Prayers as they make plans to get home safely.
  • Those who are grieving loss of loved ones
  • A sister to find a job
  • One who has been laid off from work

We offer prayers of thanksgiving for …

  • Healing after surgery
  • Help with plans for transition from hospital to rehab 
  • Being with family during Fall Break!

You told us when we pray, pray like this: 

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.